The central theme of this exhibition is Jonathan Meese’s diverse,
in-depth work with the Parsifal myth. Since 1999, the artist has on
numerous occasions addressed the central subject of Bayreuth and its
creator Richard Wagner. In 2005 Parsifal, the figure of the “pure fool”
appeared for the first time in his oeuvre. The Berlin Staatsoper Unter
den Linden had invited the artist to come up with a performance for the
Magazin, which took place parallel to the “Parsifal” Wagner opera
conducted by Daniel Barenboim. In three five-hour appearances, in a
production titled Jonathan Meese ist Mutter Parzival, Parsifal became
transformed into Jonathan Meese and Jonathan Meese into Parsifal – with
the boundaries between the artist and the Parsifal figure becoming
For the artist Meese, Parsifal stands for the artist of the future, who with his unmistakably clear gaze paves the way to a new world. In 2014, Meese first transformed this material
in his concept for a staging of “Parsifal” for Bayreuther Festspiele. He
had already been asked in 2012 to take on the dramaturgy, stage set
design and costumes. The artist’s concept for the Festspiele was
rejected but he took this as an occasion to develop a radically new
reinterpretation of the Parsifal material for the Vienna Festival
(Wiener Festwochen) in cooperation with the Berliner Festspiele.
Together with the Austrian composer Bernhard Lang, Meese transformed
Parsifal into a science fiction scenario, stripped free of Richard
Wagner’s religious pathos, in their production MONDPARSIFAL ALPHA 1-8
(ERZMUTTERZ DER ABWEHRZ).
In DE PAKT MIT RICHARD WAGNERZ Jonathan
Meese is presenting early works referring to Wagner as well as his
stage set and costume designs for the Bayreuther Festspiele. The show
will also feature paintings, collages, sculptures and films that were
created in connection with the new staging, MONDPARSIFAL. Parallel to
this Jonathan Meese will be presenting the intervention titled
PARSIFAL´S TRAUM: CHEFSACHE ´K.U.N.S.T´ in the painting gallery of the
Vienna Museum of Art History from May 12 to June 18, 2017.
Since the very beginning Jonathan Meese feels most strongly drawn to forms of
artistic expression such as installations, actions and performances. In
2004 he began turning to the theater stage where he employed various
materials, references, objects and media such as photography, music and
literature as pictorial means.
Like hardly any other art of the present day, Jonathan Meese has worked intensively with the figure of Wagner and his world of myths, integrating his heroes in his own world
theater. While many of this artist colleagues would prefer not to deal
with this figure, also given Richard Wagner’s anti-Semitic diatribes and
the cooptation of his work by the Nazi regime, Meese’s approach seems
all the more peculiar, radical and above all uninhibited.